Éire Nua Awareness Public Meeting
St. John Bosco Community Centre, Dublin
A chairde, comrades,
I wish to thank the organisers for asking me to speak here.
I think as far as the Éire Nua proposals are concerned we are living in very interesting times. Even among those who rubbished the policy as “a sop to unionism” in 1982 there is the an awakening reality that some sort of a Federal Solution is inevitable for a united Ireland.
The understanding back in the early days of the Éire Nua policy was that those currently of the unionist persuasion did not and would not be ruled by a centralist Dublin led Government, this was a concern shared by and taken on board by republican revolutionaries.
We understand this completely, certainly as someone from the mid-west of Ireland a federal structure would provide a fairer distribution of power and decision making. And this is central to the concept of Éire Nua, the decentralisation of power and the vesting within the decision making process greater democracy and people based community opinion.
We are revolutionaries not in the singular sense of only wanting to remove the British government from Ireland, only then to live happily in a centralised capitalist economy. Instead we are instead revolutionaries in the holistic sense in that we aim for complete political, social and economic change. That change must come from the people, from our communities, indeed the voluntary community councils outlined in Éire Nua should be vital instruments towards bringing that about.
Éire Nua is an acknowledgement that real change cannot come about through a centralised political system. Even if the Government is Socialist, still too much power rests in the hands of a small minority of people, i.e. a party. Even if the Government was Socialist and made great progress on issues pertaining to workers’ rights, unions, industrial relations, issues regarding the great natural resource giveaway in our country and made efforts to undo the sale of public resources to privateers then great, but, and this but is a serious one. As an example we have seen the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela hammered in recent times due to a similar fact. That the party in centralised government can just be as easily replaced by another at another election, what’s not to say the Socialist government will be replaced by the bourgeois capitalist hell-bent on undoing all the great work of the Socialist government?
Such a system, such a too and froing of power is detrimental to society, an impediment to human progress, it also alienates people from politics. We currently have this, only we have never had a Socialist government in Ireland, indeed since 1919 we have not had a true democratic government in Ireland.
True success for a Socialist Republic in Ireland can only come about by the empowerment of communities, and Éire Nua again provides the strong bases for this.
Éire Nua would see the creation of a four province federal state. The capital is proposed for Athlone, the central town of Ireland. To quote from the Éire Nua policy:
This system envisions a federation of the four provinces of Ireland under the co-ordination of a national parliament, with powers devolved through regional administrative councils to local bodies, so that at all levels citizens may have an effective voice in their own governance.
After the national parliament there will be four provincial parliaments dealing with issues of importance and unique to the respective province. The decentralisation goes even further with a checks and balance system seeing policy implemented through Regional Boards and then District Councils. The Voluntary Communities Councils made up of by the people will have right of audience at all such District Councils.
This breakdown of power invests across society more accountability. Once a new political system of governance is put into place and comes into action, we as a people open the road to make progress, no longer stymied by the obstruction of British interference.
Those of a Protestant and Ulster Scots background should have no fear, in their communities they will have full control, in their province they will have a real decision making, and they can take heart that they will be full trustees of a new National Parliament that they can truly call their own National Parliament.
In the meantime, towards the realisation of this great goal, Irish republicans, revolutionaries, socialists, indeed all in society committed to seeing the real and vital change that is needed brought about must work in tandem, we cannot be many isolated minorities.
Whilst Éire Nua has from many quarters been lauded as a great document it has been noted it is a post vision of British withdrawal. In the meantime we who aspire to creating the Éire Nua need to switch the angles from talking about Éire Nua to implementing Éire Nua, can it be done? That is a question I ask of you here today!
In the pre-withdrawal policy document of the Republican Movement, Towards a Peaceful Ireland, penned the late Dáithí Ó Conaill, he based it upon the solid principles of revolutionary politics and laid out the course to be followed.
Towards a Peaceful Ireland calls for the establishment of a National Constituent Assembly bringing together varying aspects of Irish society to bring pressure to bear on the British Government to withdraw from Ireland. This National Assembly would fulfil specific functions, such as writing a new 32 County Constitution to be put to the people for acceptance or rejection via national referendum. To such an Assembly we in Republican Sinn Féin, although this cause is not and cannot be limited to us; for our part we will submit the principles of Éire Nua to be enshrined in such a new all-Ireland Constitution towards the aim of the Irish people building for themselves a self-governed and dignified nation.
To conclude I will say for those of us serious about real systematic change to the failure of centralised capitalism in a divided and occupied Ireland we again say that Éire Nua, the primary policy document of Republican Sinn Féin is the only long term viable option, it offers not only a credible future for the Province of Ulster but it will also will redress the East/West economic divisions witnessed in the 26 Counties.
In short Éire Nua is about people power for all, not party power for few. It remains a growing aspiration, a living document.